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fukufics: Wait For Sleep 2
Filth
kurushi_ficage
Title: Wait for Sleep [part 2]

Rating: pg

Length:  3888

Summary:

 


 

Faye relaxed in the bath that night, breathing in the warm steam.  Out in the living areas, she knew, Jet would be cooking whatever stored food he could find; Ed would be hacking something or someone halfway across the galaxy, and Ein would be licking her toes.  Ranma?  Faye supposed that Ranma would find something for herself to do.  After all, she’d been keeping herself amused with Ed for weeks apparently.

It was nice to relax.  With all the noises and voices in the ship, it was easy to lose her mind.  It was easy enough to not listen to herself.

And what better place to ignore oneself, to drift meaninglessly, than in a warm bath with a cigarette?

She rested her head back against the rim of the tub, and stretched her legs out over the edge.  This… this was the life.

Ahem.”

She jumped, and inadvertently splashed hot bathwater over whoever had entered the room.

Faye looked over the edge of the bath cautiously, and saw a young man of perhaps seventeen, with his black hair in a long plait down his back.  He had frozen in her gaze.

Oh.  Well, in that case…

 

Jet looked up from his cooking as he heard a scream, and then loud thumping noises.  Into the room ran a young man with dark hair, being chased by a towel-clutching and furious Faye.

Wait, please!  Faye, I can explain!”

The boy ducked a punch Faye had thrown at him, and turned towards Jet with appeal in his eyes.

I… kitchen!  Yes!”

And the boy ran past Jet, elbowing his way into the kitchen.

Hey, you!  Just what do you think you’re…”

The boy had reached the sink, and had shoved his arm beneath the tap as the cold water began to run.  The boy seemed to melt or fade perhaps, and instead there stood Ranma.  She blushed, and bowed her head a little.

Sorry, I… I have something I have to tell you.”

 

They all sat on the chairs, except for Ed, who sat on Faye’s lap.

Well?”  Faye demanded, glaring crossly at anyone who met her eyes.

I…” Ranma began, then shook her head.  “When I woke up, I reacted similarly.  When I took my first shower, I realized that something was wrong… I had turned into a man.  When I got out of the hospital, I met a Feng Shui master called Meifa, and she said that the powers of yin and yan were unbalanced within me.”

Faye and Jet stared at her still, while Ein sniffed her foot.  Ranma shifted uncomfortably on her seat.

Er, well… I didn’t mean to be this way…”

Faye smiled at Jet in a conspiratorial way.

Well, you’re cute, for all it’s worth.  And we’ve just determined how you can be a functional member of our crew!”

What?”  Jet scratched his head, and looked at Ranma.

She has an instant disguise!”

Jet grunted, and nodded.

Well, we’re off to Mars, in any case.  There’s quite a price on some young arsonist over there.”

Faye frowned.  “But what about all those antiques?”

Jet shrugged, and walked towards the cockpit.

According to Francois over there, Papa recorded a rockfall at that exact same location a few months ago.  It’s all gone.”

Faye sunk to the floor again.  All those millions of Woolongs that had been hers for the taking, all gone.

 

***

 

Usagi sat, dejected, with Luna in what had once been a train station on Earth, but was now a bustling marketplace.  The impoverished and unemployed jostled tourists and stall-owners alike, and the entire place stank of fetid humanity.  When they had fought another of those all-encompassing “final” battles against darkness and demons, they’d felt that despite all fears they would once again triumph.  After all, Neo-Tokyo and eternal happiness had been just one more evil plot away. 

But everything had gone wrong, and although they were not destroyed, most of the Senshi had fallen into deep sleep, or at least so Luna said.  All that Usagi knew was that she had woken up half a century ago in a changing world, to find Earth destroyed and her role in its destiny severely altered.

Where was everyone?  Where was Pluto?  She had warned them about jeopardising their future with rash acts, but had they really made such a great mistake?

They must have.  No, she must have.  Everyone was gone, after all.  After Ranma had run off, the rest had given up.  What was the point in sticking together, after all?  There were no more Yamiko, and each of them had changed so much from their debilitating pasts that going it alone was preferable to hanging on for scraps on Earth.

But she couldn’t bring herself to leave.  This was Earth, and if Mamoru was anywhere, he was bound to be there.

She didn’t want to think about what it might mean if he wasn’t.  Could the explosion of the first gate really have damaged the Earth so much that he could have been… hurt?

But she had to stop thinking about these things.  She had decided the day before that enough was enough, and although she couldn’t get off of the Earth, she could at least try to find out as much information as she could.

Luna had asked her, at the time, if she thought she’d be able to keep at it for more than a day without breaking down in tears or throwing a tantrum.  But Usagi was determined to do this.  She wasn’t the whiny high-school-girl she had once been, after all; she had changed as much as her surroundings.  The first thing she had done that morning was brush her hair back, not up, and tie it in a ponytail.  It was time to move on, to forget the past and work towards what could become her future.

 

***

 

After the trip to Mars, while Ed researched their next target and Faye slept, Jet took Ranma aside to his bonsai room.  Ranma sat nervously on the bench beside Jet.

You said you’d met Meifa?”

Ranma started.  Meifa?  Oh, yeah.  The Feng Shui girl.

Yeah, I was on Mars with… some others.  This girl jumped down from above a bus-stop, and grabbed my wrist.  She muttered something quickly, and pulled me across the road and into a shop.  Then she looked at me, pulled out this board of hers, and told me that in my current state of being, I was an unbalanced anomaly.  That she wanted to try and help me.  Then, the others caught up with us and when I turned back to say “goodbye”, she’d already left.”

Jet nodded thoughtfully.

That sounds like her.”

You know her?”

I was her father’s friend a long time ago.  How was she?  Healthy?”

Ranma laughed softly, regretting being so tense before.  They’d accepted her for what she was, hadn’t they?

Yeah, she was really energetic and enthusiastic.”

Jet smiled, and nodded.

Just like when I last saw her.  That’s good to hear.  So, where did you say she was last?”

 

Ed floated through the net, collecting data as she went.  Their target was a girl who was unnamed, and wanted for arson in the central Mars shopping district.  Strangely enough, Ed encountered another person who was looking for the girl.  Jet’s ISSP friend had given them a tip; the bounty wasn’t due out for two days yet.

Suspicious!  Malicious!  Delicious!”

Ed found the other user logged in as “bun-bun”, and they were looking for a few very specific people.  All women, in fact.  Rei (Mars’ name?) was the dark-haired arsonist that Ed was after; she had had ties to a special group… Ed blinked as she saw the name.  Senshi.  So, it was the person who was after Ranma.   Ed stretched her arms and set to work.  Whoever this person was, they deserved investigation.

 

She was a girl, Ed found out.  Or, at least, her machine had lots of pink involved in its themes.  And there was a lot of information.  Diary entries; hundreds of pop songs and magazine files; databases, and that was what Ed was concerned with.  She copied the files to Tomato, and logged out of bun-bun’s computer, but not before leaving a small grinning icon in the folder she had copied.

 

She opened the first clump of files, which were named after the planets of the solar system.  She opened them in order of proximity to the sun, beginning with “Mercury”.  Inside she found a personal profile that included blood type, date of birth, hobbies, photographs, and a special section that included “date of awakening”, “manifestation” and “location”.

Mercury was Ami Mizuno.  Her favourite colour was blue, and she liked schoolwork.  She also liked, apparently, drowning her opponents with attacks that were water-centric.

The rest followed in similar form; names that matched planets, and manifestations of powers related to mythology.  Ed knew all about myths; Ed had hacked the Titans game when she was a real little kid, and had ended up with a lump of background information and character dialogues.  Ed knew what Ed was looking at, here.

So “Mercury” was Mizuno Ami;”Venus” Minako Aino; “Earth” Ranma Saotome; “Moon” Usagi Tsukino; “Mars” Rei (name), the arsonist from Mars; “Jupiter” Makoto; “Saturn” Hotaru; “Uranus” Haruka; “Neptune” Michiru; “Pluto” Setsuna.

Ed left the files of names and went in search of different files.  Ed chose the most different in size and name; “Optimal Tokyo 001”.

It was odd; a file that detailed a chronology of events that followed the past near exactly up to a certain point.  A slight deviation in trivial matters changed, over decades, into a great deviation.  It was as if this future had taken off tangentially from reality, or perhaps the other way around.  Ed opened six more similar files, all with names like “Optimal” or “Potential” or “Hazardous” in the titles.  Each one was another timeline for reality, each with Usagi, moon, as the central character.

Ed returned to Moon’s profile.  The girl was blonde, and had two small buns on top of her head, long hair trailing down from them.  Presumably, this was bun-bun.

So, she was the moon.  What about Pluto, the person and planet from which the files seemed to have originated?

As far as Ed was aware, Pluto was one of the gods of the underworld.  What exactly that signified, Ed had no idea.

 

***

 

Ranma lay on her bed, tossing.  She couldn’t sleep.  She knew, from Ed, that there used to be another member of the Bebop’s crew.  Spike had gone off and never returned; he had left a spare bed.

Ranma felt uneasy using the room, but Jet had insisted.  And Faye?  Faye had stepped onto Mars to visit a casino.  She hadn’t come back, and when Ranma had asked Jet, he’d just chuckled.

Oh, she’ll be back, when she’s made a fortune, lost it, and doubled her initial debt.  Just give it a few more days.”

So Ranma lay on a dead man’s bed, and looked up at his bare roof.  Things were slow, but apparently when Ed came up with information, they would be very busy for a very short period of time.

Ranma was, strangely enough, anticipating a potential chase or fight with excitement.  All those staged battles against thugs and drunkards had irritated her with the Senshi, but for some reason being with these people was… fun.

Ranma rolled onto her side, and rubbed her eyes.  She was tired, it was just that sleep refused to come.

 

The rain fell softly on the roof of the dojo, and a young girl with short black hair readied herself to crush the bricks in front of her.  With a loud shout, she brought her hand down towards the bricks…

And found that it was interrupted by a foot.  A foot that belonged, in fact, to the leg of a young woman who was also in the dojo.

Ranma!  Can’t you go play on the roof?  I’m trying to train here!”

Ranma sneezed, and shook her head.

I’ve got a cold.  And, anyway, training as a girl always ruins my aim.  I can’t really help needing to be in here now, can I?  And it is. after all, it is a large training hall.”

Akane frowned, and stood her ground.

I was here first!  And in any case, since when have you wanted to use MY training hall?”

Ranma kicked the bricks, but was careful not to break them.

Since it was raining.  Technically, it’s as much mine as yours anyway… darling.”

Akane blushed, and stalked off to the other end of the training hall, and Ranma made her way to the kettle she had set down near the door.  As she poured it over herself, Akane turned around again.

What makes you think I’d let Dad make me marry you?”

Ranma looked at her, in the eyes, and then slumped against the wall.  This was never going to work.

Akane huffed, and turned her back on him again to begin a training kata.  Slowly she calmed and let herself fall into the rhythm.  Ranma stood and joined her after a while, and when they reached the end of the pattern, he showed her the more complicated steps he had shown her the week before.  She fell into step and made no noise when he moved behind her, to watch her movement.  She made no objection when he softly corrected her position.

When he reached in front of her to lift her arm a little, she stopped moving.  Ranma could feel his heart beating faster every second.  She didn’t move away, she didn’t hit him…

Akane…”

Her breathing came softly, quickly.  Was she feeling the same way he was?

Akane, I… I like you.”

She turned to stone in his arms, and turned around.  Slowly, she stepped back, and when the slap hit his face the speed of that movement took him completely by surprise.  She turned and ran out of the dojo, into the rain that had begun to fall harder and harder.

Wait…”

 

“…Akane!”

Ranma woke, shuddering, and found a hollow sadness inside her heart.  It had sunken in deep, and she bent over in two to try and contain the pain.

Hiding her face in her hands, she felt her tears trail down her arms and into her sleeves.  The hollowness and aching felt as if it resonated with every vein and artery in her body; choking her with physical pain.  Curling in on herself, tensing muscles and trying to fight the agony, she lay in the darkness.

 

When the sensation faded, Ranma lay still for a while.  Who was that face?  That foggy, familiar girl whose name and identity evaded her?  Had they been friends?  Sisters?  Lovers?

Ranma laughed.  Women were much prettier than men, but she didn’t feel like a lesbian.  But Ranma knew that this girl was, somehow, a person from her past; a person whose body had long since dissolved into the earth.  Another wave of darkness and depression threatened to overcome her again, so she resolutely left her bed and padded into the main room.

 

Ed was sitting in the corner, frowning at the data on her display.  Ranma walked over and sat down beside her, then began to scratch Ein absently.

Is it going well?”

Ed started, and then turned to Ranma, pouting.

Ed has too much to do.  What does the Earth mean?  Are you Gaia?”

Ranma frowned herself, then peered at what tomato’s screen displayed.

Oh, Luna’s records.  I’m “Earth” for no real reason.  There used to be this guy, before me, but they never mentioned him much.  I’m really just filling in for someone else, because I had the right sort of magical aura or something.”

Ranma didn’t want to ask Ed where or how she’d gotten the files; the one time she had asked Ed for something like that, the conversation had been near incomprehensible.  Ranma sat back, and sighed.  She was so very tired, but sleep was not an option, as her previous attempt had shown.  It was still dark outside, and Jet wouldn’t be up for hours.

Ed opened Rei’s file, and then dragged up another window with the description of their bounty target.

Burnination!” Ed proclaimed, and Ranma stared at the screen.  She was right; the arsonist was Rei.

I… I know where she’ll be.  Is there any way to record something like temple access?”

Ed wriggled her fingers, and bent over her keyboard.

I know, I know.  Security Cameras or bust!”

Ranma scratched her back and stretched, as Ed hunted down the Shinto-istic temples that had security cameras installed.  She called up the files from the last few days, and set them to run fast.  Five windows of ridiculously hurried prayers and obsequiousness fluttered on the screen, until Ranma noticed a more familiar flicker of hair.

Wait, there.  Third from the right.”

Ed skipped back, and they watched Rei move slowly into the main temple room.  She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but the way that she carried herself made her stand out from the rest of the crowds; she was not mumbling prayers or shuffling like the rest of the crowd, but moving carefully as if she felt a great spiritual emotion.

She bowed, clapped her hands, and the image froze.

Ed clapped, bowed solemnly towards tomato’s screen, and saved the image to her hard drive.

 

***

 

Faye stumbled back to the Bebop in the early hours of the morning, to find Ranma and Ed lying on the floor.  Ed was asleep, one raised leg twitching in the air, but Ranma was just lying on the ground, staring at the roof.

I’m home.” She grated the words out of a gravel-lined throat, and dropped her battered shopping bag.

Ranma sat up and looked blearily at her.

You look as bad as I feel, right now.” Faye laughed.  She moved over and rested a cool hand on Ranma’s forehead.  It was warm, and clammy against her palm.

But I guess you must feel worse…”

 

By the time she had helped Ranma into her bed, Jet and Ed had woken up, and were exclaiming over what was being displayed on Ed’s computer’s screen.  Faye guessed that they’d found their arsonist, but Ranma was more worrying than that.  As Faye held a cool wet cloth to Ranma’s forehead, the girl tensed in her sleep.  She shifted about, and murmured to herself in her fevered sleep.

“…no… Akane…”

 

Ranma stood, unhappily, over what had once been a church.  Why hadn’t he seen it all coming?  Even with Shampoo distracted and Ukyou out of town, with Ryouga MIA and Kuno on a training camp…

What had possessed them to assume that everything would go alright?  Even secrets and constant fear of discovery was better than this.  Akane was sitting dejectedly on the remains of a pew, holding a blanket around herself to conceal her tattered dress.

And over by the street, half-shadowed by the darkness of night, was Kodachi Tatewaki.  Her dark form was twisted, dark shadows beneath her eyes betraying the demon that possessed her.  Dark power crackled like inverse electricity around her fingers, and she stepped towards Ranma.

She had attacked Akane, but now all of her attention was focused on Ranma.

Pathetic little girl,” the demon snarled through Kodachi’s mouth.  “So easy to manipulate.  You should be proud for inspiring such mindless devotion to one goal; for blinding her to my powerful presence…”

Ranma had circled around the monster during her speech, and was slowly leading her away from Akane and the Tendou sisters…

Now, I…”

I am Sailor Moon!”

A blonde girl ran past Ranma, knocking him to the side.  She was followed by four other girls, all wearing similar outfits.

Now, Usagi!”  One of them had shouted, and the blonde had nodded.

She raised her arm, spun around, and together all five shouted words that were too loud for Ranma to hear.  A bright light razed the scene, crackling with electric energy, burning with fire, and permeating the ground as if it was a liquid.  Then, an all-too familiar scream sounded from behind the monster and the light, and Ranma reached out in vain.

AKANE!”

The world felt very heavy on his heart, and Ranma felt himself falling backwards.  One of the girls ran towards him, and he heard her footsteps as if through cottonwool.

I… Oh, god.  Usagi, I… we… what have we done?”

 

Ranma woke slowly, feeling exhausted.  All she could recall was that familiar sense of desolation, and a sort of lethargic warmth.  She was exhausted, and she felt as if she wanted to slip back into that foggy and tired oblivion.  Darkness, and the complete absence of dreams.

Then she saw Faye, who was sitting across the room and smoking, eyebrows furrowed with concern.  What had happened?

Ranma could remember having a bad dream, then sitting up with Ed, discovering that Rei had been their next bounty…

And then, there had been another dream.  And that girl again, that sadness again.

Ranma sighed, and lay still; she was still feeling incredibly drained.

 

Faye looked up as she heard a faint exhalation, and saw that Ranma was awake, but lying in bed.  Without speaking, Faye knew.  Dreams that she could never recall, and a heavy feeling inside her heart.

She pulled her chair beside the bed, and laid her free hand on the girl’s arm.

No matter who or what they were to you, they’re gone now.  But I’m here, Ranma, and so’re… Well, they’re out chasing that girl at the moment, but we’re here for you.”

Ranma sat up groggily, and let Faye’s words fill her head.  She is gone.  They are all gone, now.

Anyway, I have a proposition for you, Gorgio.  Since the boys are away, it’s the perfect opportunity for us girls to make a little profit.”

Ranma blinked the sleep from her eyes, and smiled warily at Faye.

Isn’t Ed a girl?”

Faye shrugged, and began to walk from the room.

Are you coming or not, cowboy?

 

Faye pushed Ranma in front of the viewscreen and waited for a response.  There was a bounty out on another girl.  She was tall, dark, and cold in the picture.  She was the same woman that Ed had felt consternation towards the night before.

Faye winked at Ranma.

Can you guess where we’re going?”

Pluto.” Ranma said, looking at the picture.  It was one of the Senshi she had never met before; one who might give her a straight answer about Usagi’s plans for the universe.

Not, of course, that Ranma cared about that anymore.  But she was still allowed to be curious, wasn’t she?

Faye watched Ranma carefully for a moment, then reached over and turned the computer off.

Let’s go.”